Hong Kong protesters. REUTERS

China has condemned the recent anti-government protests in Hong Kong as “horrendous incidents” that have caused “serious damage to the rule of law”.

“We hope that people will stand firm in defence of the rule of law,” a spokesman for the government’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office said.

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Hong Kong has seen eight consecutive weekends of anti-government and pro-democracy protests.

There were violent clashes over the weekend between police and protesters.

In a rare statement, the spokesman condemned “the evil and criminal acts committed by the radical elements” in Hong Kong.

“We call on the general public of Hong Kong to be aware of the grave nature of the current situation,” he said.

As a former British colony, Hong Kong has its own legal and judicial systems, and has been promised “a high degree of autonomy” from the Chinese government, except in foreign and defence affairs.